A Radical Place

A minute is not a minute

What is time? If nobody asks , I know it. If I want to explain it to somebody, I don't. (Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, second book, Chapter 14)
It is as hard to give a definition of time as it is complicated to grasp time itself. Always around present, but everything what was "now", is almost past in the very instant. Moreover the impartial dimension of "time" differentiates from the subjective perception of time: We experience time through our human consciousness, by retaining sensations in the shape of images in our memory and thereby conserve them. Through this stored series of images, a temporal continuum, a "before" and an "after" emerges, wherein we really live our experience only in the moment between. Time is an abstract guide, to sequence our experience and to plan our future. But this guide is not only shaped by a certain string of events and physical and natural phenomena like the setting of he sun or the first snow in the Year. It is as much defined by our social experiences and the different cultures we live in. In many cultures it differentiates from the “western” model of Past, Present and Future. For some groups the future is situated behind them, and they are looking into the past. Still other cultures doesn’t differate at all between the three states. For them these time zones exist not apart from each other, but exists side by side at the same moment and only the different individuals perceive them apart from each other. Even the in the physics we aren’t so sure anymore about the order of events, and with the theory of relativity, the definition about past, Presence and Future got much more difficult and complex.
Likewise these guides are different not only from the objective time itself, but every person perceives them in their own personal way. Ultimately we could push this issue this far as to say, that every being has his own personal “time-zone”. This time-zone would correlate with others and we can share some time with each other, but as some days passes for one person like a blur, the other feels as if the hours would go on forever, and finally we are the sole inhabitants of our zone.
It is, one of the most radical places we can be. Nobody can reach us there and be with us at this personal place, at least for an extended time.
The exhibition “a minute is not a minute” tries to visualize the different, subjective interpretations of this “radical place time” and to open each perspective to the viewer. Twenty artists address this phenomenon in as many different ways, as there are participants. Yet this exhibition tries loosely to assort the artists and their work under different aspects, like moment, memory or change.
Olga Kessler for instance works with the typical portrayal of an family with her Series “Ein Kuss - System Familie” (a kiss - system family). But she breaks with the artificiality that inhibits often these kind of pictures and tries to show the authentic social relationship of the portrayed. In her photographs every little detail counts. The slight caress of a mother, the hand gestures and the postures of the parents evoke in the viewer disparate feelings and he tries to discern the web of relationships in these frozen moments. But never quite succeeds.
A different approach to the thematic is chosen by Elke Graalfs. By repeatedly painting the same pattern, a mesh over a big surface, she creates a tableau of impressive structure. In her untitled work, from the Series “Die große Masche” (the big mesh) she treats the canvas as a meditative surface where she strings together rows of rows of the same movement. The identical Moment is repeated again and again, to create a unique piece of work. At the same time the artists looses herself in this movement and recreates a unique moment over and over again. to attain a certain mediative state where the passing of time doesn’t count anymore.
But the idea of A Radical Place does not comes only from the artworks. The place itself called "Supermarkt" conveys this idea. Formerly a convenience store the whole location was rebuild and redesigned. It hosts now a little caf? and a meeting centre, where conferences, lectures, but also Events, Parties, and exhibitions are being organized and held. This place was founded by a collective of like minded Individuals who came from the young and vibrant creative scene of Berlin. Attached to this location are offices and ateliers which can be rented and are equipped to answer the needs of designers and businessmen alike.

The place itself is a reminder of the constant change that happens in Berlin. Supermarkt is located in the Brunnenstraße, a street that climbs from the ward of Mitte, who incorporates a part of the historical centre of Berlin, into the district of Gesundbrunnen, who is mainly a working class district in which the majority of the buildings were built in the 80’s . The Berlin Wall cut the Brunnenstraße in two halves, only 5 minutes away from the Supermarkt at the Bernauer Straße and reinforced the different aspects from the two parts. After the fall of the wall these differences were very present, with the majority of the galleries, Art Spaces first took hold in the old buildings who were in bad shape and renovated them. Also some of the most important museums in Berlin are in the district. But even this tend to change. Especially young and upcoming galleries tend to flee the extreme high rents from Mitte by searching for cheaper rooms, also turned towards the empty spaces that existed in the district of Gesundbrunnen. That the Supermarkt is in this district but still very near to Mitte is for once a testimony to the ever changing face of the city, but at the same time tries to connect these different aspects of the city.
The starting point for this exhibition was a seminar proposed at the Free University of Berlin. The goal of this course is to teach the students from the history of arts how to organise and curate a exhibition. In being completely independent from the university, the students had to plan everything, from scratch. The organisational, financial and curatial aspects of the exhibition were undertaken by the students. The course was supervised by freelance curator Dr. Anna-Carola Krausse, but she took a more advisory part and ultimately te students had the rsponsability to realise a sucsessfull exhibition..
The conceptual work was a very important part in the whole process. We started by presenting different ideas for an exhibition to the course and we delevoped through many discussions and further presentations a first rough draft of the exhibition. Then we wrote a call for works and distributed it via different channels, like Universities of, but also by presenting to artists personally to reach and convince them. We decided to concentrate on local artists who resided in Berlin, because of the logistical problems it would take to transport the art work from other cities. Nevertheless we had artists from as far as Munich and Italy, but these were the exception. After the release of the call we received a overwhelming response and we hand to sort through almost 150 entries. The challenge was to get a coherent group of artist that corresponded to our idea of the exhibition and who worked together, without to seem to uniform and boring or to different in their approach. In the course of the choosing of the artists the concept changed as to accommodate the different fascinating aspects which we wanted to incorporate in the exhibition. Parallel we had to find the location and the financial means to realise the project.
Because the exhibition wasn’t a commercial one and in being students we didn’t have much money we had to rely on sponsors and outside financial aid. We had the chance to find the Youthbank and the Friedel-Springer Stiftung as sponsors, who where a big help. Besides these two we had private Sponsors and Helpers, like family and friends who willingly donated money or their manpower to help when help was needed.
With the Supermarkt we did find a location who was, because of the conceptual side who was described above, very fascinating, but also provided enough space and to present the different artworks in a adequate manner. We had the luck that the tenants of the Supermarkt were kind enough to let us almost free reign in building the exhibition and also gave us the possibility to store the different works of art in the cellar before and after the exhibition. In this setting we had also the chance to organize spontaneous activities. For instance the artist Thomas Prochnow realized the urban sculpture “bezugsstadt_3” in one day, by working with the fountain who stands in front of the exhibition space. By working with industrial wrapping foil, he made direct references to previous works which were realized in Gera and Berlin. Furthermore by realizing the sculpture in the neighborhood, he connected the exhibition with the public space and transponded the art into the civic environment and to he neighborhood of the exhibition.

The exhibition herself was very well received. At the vernissage about 300 people showed up and during the duration of the exhibition, who did rum for fourteen days., we had approximately 17 visitors per day. We also had coverage in journal papers and one feature in the radio. All in all it was a personal success and a great experience for everybody in this project.

Reported by Matthieu Chladek

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Courtesy: Matthieu Chladek